It's been nine years since Jennifer Garner starred in Elektra and ten years since Halle Berry starred in Catwoman, and while the comic book superheroes — from Spider-Man to Wolverine to Iron Man and Thor — are raking in cash at the box office, the ladies are relegated to supporting cast members. That's about to change.
Deadline reports that Sony Pictures is plotting a(nother) revamp of the Spider-Man property, with one flick dedicated to the villains and another movie that will revolve around (drumroll, please) a female superhero. Deadline's Anita Busch writes:
Which characters they will develop is up for speculation, but we know that Lisa Joy (Westworld, Reminiscence) has been hired to script and that again Arad and Tolmach are producing. There are several strong possibilities — Silver Sable, Black Cat, Stunner, Firestar and Spider-Woman, to name a few.
Obviously the time is right for a female superhero movie. In fact, the time has been right. For years. But with Wonder Woman making an appearance in Batman vs. Superman and the announcement regarding Lady Thor, it's clear that something's in the air. Comic book franchises are incredibly popular, and — shocker — women go see these movies. (The audience for Guardians of the Galaxy was over 40% female.)
In addition, there have been more and more women playing action heroes lately, from Hunger Games to Divergent to Lucy. In fact, Lucy beat Hercules at the box office, proving strong women are a draw. Maybe Maleficent isn't exactly a traditional superhero, but she does have a wicked costume and supernatural powers… not to mention a truly epic $700 million in earnings, just from theater tickets alone.
As Eliana Docketerman writes for Time:
An analysis of 2013 movies found that those with strong female characters (like The Hunger Games and Frozen) did better at the box office.
But while a Spider-Man-oriented superheroine sounds cool, it also feels both long overdue and not enough. Where's the Black Widow movie? Where's the Wonder Woman movie? Where's the Tomb Raider reboot we heard about in 2011?
The success of Maleficent, Hunger Games, Divergent, Frozen, and hell, even One Direction? A testament to the sheer dollar power associated with young women. A female action hero won't just be a box office draw: There's the merch: the accessories, the t-shirt line, the toys, the action figures, the live shows, the Halloween costumes. Done properly, a female superhero movie could end up a cultural juggernaut (and this comes from someone who, as a kid, wore a Wonder Woman bathing suit until it disintegrated) as well as an important alternative (or balanced counterpart for) lovesick heteronormative Disney Princesses.
A couple of years ago, I asked: What makes a perfect female action hero? Most of the requirements still stand: She's got to be smart, strong, fearless, with clear-cut goals and a three-dimensional personal life. If a studio finds that sweet spot — a well-crafted story; a heroine young enough to appeal to girls and teens, but old enough that grown-ups relate; an iconic look that can be replicated onto millions of backpacks and lunchboxes; and a charismatic, embraceable, lovable star — the potential for world domination is there. Why this is not a priority is beyond me.
Meanwhile, Sly Stallone is talking about doing The Expendabelles, a ladycentric version of The Expendables — a franchise with so many dudes in it they barely fit on the poster — and is hoping Sigourney Weaver will get involved. Hell. Yes. We're so behind, in terms of women kicking ass on screen, we need as many of these movies as we can get.
Images via Warner Bros, Fox, Marvel, Lionsgate.